This has nothing to do with writing. I just feel like talking about it.
I, like many others living here, have been completing the Census form, and look forward to a stage when I can complete it without identifying myself in terms of race. Why does ‘nationality’ not suffice for the purpose of statistics. It is a more accurate description.
In South Africa under Apartheid your every breathing moment was defined by which race classification you were fitted into. Were you white enough to be classified white, or dark enough to be classified black? If not, you fell into the general category of ‘coloured’ or ‘other coloured’ or Indian (the only classification linked to country of origin) The notions of black and white are, in my view, meaningless. The notions of nationality are not.
The census form includes place of birth and nationality – why then do they need to know the following:
What is your ethnic or cultural background?
A. White – Irish/ Irish Traveller/ Any other White background
B. Black or Black Irish – African/Any other Black background
C. Asian or Asian Irish – Chinese/Any other Asian background
D. Other, including mixed background – Other, write in description.
Who dreamt these up? What is a Black (Capital B) background? What is a White (Capital W) background? Without wanting to obstruct the Central Statistics office in its work, we have not (as I felt like doing) thrown the form away, but have completed that section by identifying ourselves by the non-definition of ‘other’ – the explanation being mixed. It is not a satisfactory solution, but will do for the meantime. A mixed bag we are.
As an aside, in South Africa the Afrikaner group has always identified itself as ‘pure white’ and this, in terms of their own definition, is just pure wrong. Recent studies into the genetic composition of Afrikaners have shown that between 5 – 7% of their genetic make up consists of genes that have come directly from Khoisan, Malay, Indian and West African peoples. If then an Afrikaner was sitting down to fill in the census form in Ireland today he would, if he was being honest, tick the category ‘Other – Mixed.’
By Luke Chueh www.lukechueh.com